Where culture began: new Human Origins Tours in Mossel Bay

The Pinnacle Point Caves have revealed the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour – including the earliest use of ochre for colouring and symboling – and they’re now accessible to groups of up to twelve people.

“We know from mitochondrial DNA research that all humans alive today stem from a core population that lived between 150 and 200 thousand years ago,” said Peter Nilssen, who, together with Jonathan Kaplan, discovered the archaeological remains at Pinnacle Point (now the Pinnacle Point Beach & Golf Resort) in the late 90s.

“International research into the contents of the caves – which is led by Professor Curtis Marean of the School of Human Origins at Arizona State University – now shows that many of them probably lived in the Mossel Bay area.”

Modern human behaviour began when we began systematically harvesting the seashore, inserting bladelets into other strata to create complex tools, using heat to improve the quality of our stone tools – and using ochre for cultural purposes.

The archaeology of the Pinnacle Point Caves has drawn international interest – and the demand for tours of the caves has been enormous. This has prompted a group of interested parties – including Heritage Western Cape, the South African Heritage Resources Agency, the scientist of the SACP4 Project (under Prof. Marean), the Pinnacle Point Homeowners Association – to collaborate to make them accessible to the public.

Mossel Bay’s Oystercatcher Trail arranges the 4-hour, scheduled departure excursions. Tours are limited to 12 guests, are lead by qualified guides, and include Dr. Nilssen’s lecture on the significance of the finds. 20% of the proceeds from the tours go towards conserving the priceless archaeology of the site.

More information: www.humanorigin.co.za.

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